In the early to mid-1980s Fender realized that labor and shipping costs overseas were being to rise, so Fender decided it would be easier to set up a plant in Ensenada, Mexico. Fender Mexico was established May 5, 1987. Fender started producing guitars in its 200,000 sq. ft. Ensenada plant in 1990. Due to production times and shipping dates, there is an overlap between each years guitars. That is why each number has two years of production.

As with all Fender serial numbers, the **Mexican Fender serial numbers** are inconsistent and change patterns a few times. The Mexican serial numbers start by following the same lettering pattern that American Fender guitar had in the 1990s using the letter "N" to indicate the 1990s. The letter "N" is followed by a number that indicates the specific year of production. To differentiate these guitars from the American guitars, Fender decided to add an "M" in front of the serial numbers that stood for Mexico. So MN100001 was a Mexican Fender guitar built in 1991-1992. All of the "MN#" serial numbers are then followed by five or six digits like this.

Numbers |
Years |
---|---|

MN0 + 5 of 6 Digits | 1990 - 1991 |

MN1 + 5 of 6 Digits | 1991 - 1992 |

MN2 + 5 of 6 Digits | 1992 - 1993 |

MN3 + 5 of 6 Digits | 1993 - 1994 |

MN4 + 5 of 6 Digits | 1994 - 1995 |

MN5 + 5 of 6 Digits | 1995 - 1996 |

MN6 + 5 of 6 Digits | 1996 - 1997 |

MN7 + 5 of 6 Digits | 1997 - 1998 |

MN8 + 5 of 6 Digits | 1998 - 1999 |

MN9 + 5 of 6 Digits | 1999 - 2000 |

After 1999, Fender switched its Mexican serial number system to "MZ#" numbers. Just like the American Fenders, the "Z" stood for zero or the 2000s. Just like the "MN#" numbers, the first number in the serial number stood for the specific year of production. Each "MZ#" was followed by five or six digits like this.

Numbers |
Years |
---|---|

MZ0 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2000 - 2001 |

MZ1 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2001 - 2002 |

MZ2 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2002 - 2003 |

MZ3 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2003 - 2004 |

MZ4 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2004 - 2005 |

MZ5 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2005 - 2006 |

MZ6 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2006 - 2007 |

MZ7 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2007 - 2008 |

MZ8 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2008 - 2009 |

MZ9 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2009 - 2010 |

Ok. So everything was pretty simple up to this point, right? Fender didn't screw it up too much so far. Well, then comes 2010. Now the "Z" can't be used for a serial number. Fender decided to switch to using the number 10 instead of a letter prefix. The number 10 was supposed to represent the first year of the second decade in the new millennium. Confusing, right? So starting in late 2009, guitars were being produced with the number 10 with a space followed by seven or eight digits. These new serial numbers didn't actually track the country of origin. Instead, you have to rely on the "Made in" decal on the headstock to find out where the guitar was made. Another oddity of these guitars is that Fender's computers had a glitch and only recorded the seven-digit serial number. The number 10 prefix was not recorded in their operations systems. Obviously, Fender had to do something about this, so it changed the serial number scheme a few months later. Only late 2009 to March 2010 Fender guitars will have a "10 0000001" serial number.

Numbers |
Years |
---|---|

10 (space) + 7 or 8 Digits | Late 2009 - March 2010 |

Once Fender saw the errors in the old system, they decided to go back to the previous lettering serial number schemes. This way the country of origin and the date of production can be coded into the serial number. This time they chose the letter "X" to represent the second decade of the 2000s. The first two letters following the "MX" serial numbers indicate the year of production. After the "MX##" prefix, six digits were added.

Numbers |
Years |
---|---|

MX10 + 6 Digits | 2010 - 2011 |

MX11 + 6 Digits | 2011 - 2012 |

MX12 + 6 Digits | 2012 - 2013 |

It wouldn't be like Fender, if there weren't some kind of exceptions to the exceptions. Some signature models like the Jim Root Telecaster, James Burton Standard Telecaster, Buddy Guy Stratocaster (polka dot model), Robert Cray Stratocaster, and Jimmie Vaughan Stratocaster substituted an "MS#" serial number for the standard "MX#" number. The "S" stood for signature. Only a few signature models were converted over to the"MX10" numbering system in October 2010. However, the Reggie Hamilton and Frank Bello Jazz basses used an "MX" serial number prefix before the 2010 change.

Numbers |
Years |
---|---|

MSN0 + 5 Digits | 1990 - 1991 |

MSN1 + 5 Digits | 1991 - 1992 |

MSN2 + 5 Digits | 1992 - 1993 |

MSN3 + 5 Digits | 1993 - 1994 |

MSN4 + 5 Digits | 1994 - 1995 |

MSN5 + 5 Digits | 1995 - 1996 |

MSN6 + 5 Digits | 1996 - 1997 |

MSN7 + 5 Digits | 1997 - 1998 |

MSN8 + 5 Digits | 1998 - 1999 |

MSN9 + 5 Digits | 1999 - 2000 |

MS0 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2000 - 2001 |

MS1 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2001 - 2002 |

MS2 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2002 - 2003 |

MS3 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2003 - 2004 |

MS4 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2004 - 2005 |

MS5 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2005 - 2006 |

MS6 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2006 - 2007 |

MS7 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2007 - 2008 |

MS8 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2008 - 2009 |

MS9 + 5 or 6 Digits | 2009 - 2010 |

Other signature guitar like the Ritchie Blackmore Stratocaster and Duff McKagan P Bass used a "MSZ" serial number rather than the "MS#" number.

Fender also made a series of guitars in 1997 and 1998 that were produced and assembled in both the US and Mexico. These California Series guitars and basses use an "AMX#" prefix to indicate that they were made in America and Mexico.

Numbers |
Years |
---|---|

AMX7 + 6 Digits | 1997 - 1998 |

AMX8 + 6 Digits | 1997 - 1998 |

I hope that wasn't too confusing for you. Fender has always been good at keeping us guessing with their numbering systems. The Mexican guitars are no exceptions. I hope this article helped you understand your Mexican Fender guitar serial number and figure out how your guitar is. Now it's time to get back to playing!

You can also find more information on the Fender site.

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